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“Netbook of the future”? September 24, 2009

Posted by mbdavenport in Uncategorized.
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Archos have announced their upcoming 9-inch tablet computer. Following on from their recent introduction of their Android-lovin’ Archos 5 Internet Tablet, the bigger brother – catchily coined ‘9PCTablet’ – will be running off of an Intel Atom processor and packing Windows 7 Starter Edition for your multi-touching pleasure.

The reveal took place at the Intel Developers’ Forum which is currently taking place in San Francisco. Archos have referred to this device as the “netbook of the future.” It is easy to see how correct they could be. The tablet PC is an area that is starting to capture some real interest now that everyone thinks that’s what Apple is pushing for. It also helps that technology is quickly reaching a point where such tablets can be powerful enough to do some trick tasks whilst remaining thin and with battery life measured in hours, not minutes.

One of the things that is missing from the 9PCTablet is a 3G SIM card slot: an omission that may prove to be a little short-sighted and may limit this product to niche-market popularity. Tablet PCs are not powerful or practical enough to do a vast majority of tasks that the average Joe may want to undertake on a computer. The thing, nay, the only thing that a tablet or netbook does well is providing portable internet access on relatively small budget.

Whilst Wi-fi will happily suffice when you’re at home or at a friend’s house, it isn’t much good when you’re on a train, or in a car, or at the park, or the office canteen on your lunch break, or anywhere further than 20 miles of the local exchange. The one thing preventing many people from spending money on a portable internet device is that its portability is drastically limited without a 3G dataplan.

Most of the mobile phone vendors in the UK have realised this and now sell dataplans with subsidised netbooks with integrated 3G modems – though some annoyingly persist with a dongle: a result of either having to maintain brand recognition or woeful techical foresight. Or both.

A device like the 9PCTablet would do much better being offered with a dataplan and, vitally, subsidisation from a third party phone network. You think that Apple’s (assumingly) forthcoming tablet will lack a 3G modem? Think again, Archos. Think again. What the 9PCTablet will have, however, is a 1024×600 pixel display, Bluetooth 2.1, USB 2.0, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, stereo speakers, built-in microphone, optical trackpoint, and an 1.3 megapixel camera. The device is slated for release in conjunction with Windows 7 on 22 October 2009 for a retail of $499 plus taxes.

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